Monday, April 6, 2009

Week of 04/06/2009

GOP: Really Bad Salesmen
– by David Matthews 2

When America was just starting as a nation, the big struggle was to figure out what kind of country it would be. They had just broken away from the British Empire, and there were many in the colonies that still wanted to go back to King George. But many of America’s Founding Fathers wanted to try something different… something that they talked about but never really were able to implement. The hard part was getting this new idea accepted by the masses, though.

What the Founding Fathers did, then, was to write a series of papers detailing the need for this new system to keep the kinds of government abuses committed by the British Empire contained. The papers explained the need for people to embrace this idea of a new system of government so they could enjoy something that they really didn’t understand too well at the time… namely freedom.

These papers were originally written anonymously and submitted to newspapers either as “A Citizen of New York” or under the pseudonym “Publius”, but eventually they were identified as Alexander Hamilton (the future-first Treasury Secretary), James Madison (the future-fourth President of the United States), and John Jay (the future-first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). The papers themselves were known as “The Federalist Papers”, and without them, we would probably not have the kind of government that we have had for over two centuries.

That’s right folks, our ancestors didn’t automatically embrace democracy. Most of them didn’t even know what it really meant. They had to be SOLD the idea of a representative form of government. They didn’t just say “This is how it is going to be” and the masses just went along with it. The Federalist Papers were the 18th Century version of the infomercial, and Hamilton, Madison, and Jay were its pitchmen.

How ironic, then, to know that a political party that CLAIMS to embrace “heritage” and “history” doesn’t know a damn thing about either.

The Republican Party is in dire straits. They spent eight years playing “King of the Hill” until the voters knocked them off it, and while they keep on talking about coming back in 2010 or 2012 to reclaim “the hill”, they certainly don’t seem to act like they want it that much.

When presented with a budget championed by President Barack Obama, the Republicans first decided to play a pissy little political game. Mimicking the failed tactic of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Republican leadership called a press conference and laid out “their alternative”, which consisted of nineteen pages full of almost nothing. The one figure listed would be a major reorganization of the tax code, reducing the myriad of tax levels to only two… those making over $100,000, which would be taxed at 25%, and everyone else, which would be taxed at only 10%.

But the problem with this is that it was simply presented to the media… with a promise that the details would be forthcoming. That’s it. No explanation as to why this would be better than the program offered by the Obama Administration. No discussions as to how it would stimulate the economy or cut down on the deficit. It’s just… THERE…and if you want more details, then you’ll just have to wait a week.

Meanwhile, President Obama was out there doing town hall meetings and prime-time press conferences. He’s pushing and plugging away at his plan and how it is needed to help the country.

It should come as to no surprise, then, that Obama’s plan soared through both houses of Congress, while the Republicans were left wallowing in their misery.

If Hamilton, Madison, and Jay did what Congressional Majority Leader John Boehner just did, then we probably would not have a United States of America. We probably would have ended up with some kind of monarchical system, or fragmented into various smaller government united only by a common geographic land mass.

Congressman Boehner and his ilk committed a FEMA-level error, and now they’re wondering why nobody believes them.

Their problem is a simple one: they failed to SELL their idea.

Let’s get brutally honest here… the reason why the Republican Party has become the party of MISERABLE FAILURES is because they failed to learn the lessons of its predecessors. They are failing to SELL their ideas!

Cons and neo-cons are continually complaining that Democrats like Barack Obama never really stop campaigning, even after they won. Bill Clinton did the same thing. And even this commentator has noticed that trend. But I figured out why the campaigning is needed. It’s because THAT is how they get their ideas accepted in society. They SELL the ideas! They have to!

For far too long, the Republicans have adopted an imperialist attitude when it comes to their ideas. They’ve gotten used to simply saying “Here it is, this is what we’re going to do, and you’re going to like it because we SAID so!” And in some instances they were even able to muffle any kind of opposition to their stances.

In fact it could very well be that they have become so badly detached from the rest of the world that they have forgotten what it’s like to have to SELL their ideas. It’s not like they haven’t had to sell an idea to the masses before. After all, that was the whole business with the “Contract with America” from 1994. It was a sales pitch in the same vein as the Federalist Papers.

This is the same mistake that the Bush Imperium made when it came to foreign policy. They pompously believed that freedom would just magically be bestowed in places like Afghanistan and Iraq like it was manna from the heavens. Sorry losers, but it doesn’t work like that. It didn’t work for America’s founding fathers two hundred years ago, and it certainly wouldn’t work today with the scourge of theocracy and moralism running rampant in those parts of the world. You have to SELL the idea of freedom, not just talk about it.

And that is what the Republicans have to do now if they want to have even the slightest bit of credibility. They have to get their act together and whatever idea they have, they have to actually get out there and SELL it to the public! And they can’t just show up on Rush Limbaugh’s show and talk about it amongst the followers. They have to SELL their plan to the masses in general! They have to convince the public that their plan is better than that of the Democrats. They can’t just throw out a teaser pamphlet and then a few days later put out a whole bunch of numbers and expect the masses to simply accept it on face value! You have the President of the United States going on road tours! The GOP needs to do the same!

Even worse is that the Republicans need to work TWICE AS HARD in selling their credibility than the Democrats do, because these guys had a hand in CREATING the mess that we’re in! Their guy was in office for the past eight years, and they were the party in power for much of that time. They set the stage for the mess, and now they have to convince people that they know how to fix it.

If Republicans want to be taken seriously in time for 2010 or even 2012, then they can’t just sit back and wait the Democrats fail. They have to actually PROVE that they are worthy of another look. Even now there are already grumblings of new political parties ready to take over. If the GOP fails to learn the lessons of history… a subject they claim to be the masters of… then they will join the Whigs and the Bull Moose Parties and BECOME history.

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